Patterico's Pontifications



Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:21 pm

ANOTHER QUESTION: If it’s not one too many. . . I alluded to this a couple of posts ago, but I am really interested in the strange logic that causes so many to say we should have taken out Saddam in 1991 — but we shouldn’t now. It’s such a commonly held belief, judging by the number of times I have heard it expressed, that someone reading this must be able to explain it to me. I have to admit that the logic has so far escaped me.

Carl Levin and Colin Powell

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:02 pm

If you are familiar with Senator Carl Levin’s recent claim on Fox News Sunday regarding advice he supposedly received from Colin Powell in 1991 — and Powell’s response to that claim — then you can skip the next paragraph.

For the rest of you, a little background: Levin was asked on Fox News Sunday whether he thought his vote against the Gulf War Resolution in 1991 was a mistake. He said yes, but quickly added: “we were following Colin Powell’s advice at the time and saying that sanctions could work a little longer.” Brit Hume reminded Levin that Powell had supported the resolution, and Levin continued to claim that at the time of the vote (which took place in January 1991), Powell was still privately advising Levin and other Senators that sanctions should be given more time. As Brit Hume reported the next day, Powell immediately disputed Levin’s Fox News Sunday claim. Powell said that he (Powell) had supported sanctions only as long as that was administration policy. After that, he worked on preparations for the war, and did not advocate the continuation of sanctions, to Levin or anyone else.

After the Brit Hume report I just mentioned, the story was that Powell had disputed Levin’s claim. That’s fine as far as it goes, but I have not heard anyone express astonishment that Levin was basically saying, “I set aside whatever beliefs I had regarding the appropriateness of force, and deferred to Colin Powell.” Isn’t that a rather surprising thing for a United States Senator to say — especially one as pompous and self-important as Levin? (Levin, as you may know, is one of those guys who always wears reading glasses on the end of his nose, whether he is reading or not).

Maybe the even bigger question is this: “Senator Levin, if your favored method of deciding the appropriateness of using military force is to defer to Colin Powell, why don’t you do that now? Secretary Powell certainly thinks force is warranted today. Why not just take his advice, like you claim you did in 1991?”

I’d love to hear his answer.


Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:29 pm


I would like to throw this whole war thing open for discussion. For the record, I support military action in Iraq, but I think it’s a close question, and I have concerns. I respect the opinions of those who oppose military action — if they are at least thinking the issue through rationally. If you are walking around holding signs equating Bush with Hitler (or even Saddam), then you are not thinking rationally. If you walk around criticizing Bush I for leaving Saddam in power, and criticizing Bush II for wanting to remove Saddam from power, then (in my opinion) you are not thinking rationally. However, if you just think the threat is not imminent enough to take action, then I disagree with you, but I can respect your point of view.

That said, I would like to pose what I think are the toughest questions for each side. I welcome all feedback, and will post the most thoughtful responses to each question.

To the anti-war folks, I ask: what would you actually do if it were up to you? Putting aside sloganeering about oil, criticisms of Bush, etc. — what would you actually do? I am looking for something that looks a little further ahead, and gives a little more detail, than a recitation of the oft-repeated “Give the inspectors more time” line. How much more time would you give them, exactly? What about if (I would say when) Saddam starts to block their efforts again (he’s done it before)? What is your solution? Is there any confluence of events that would cause you to say that military action would be appropriate?

To the pro-war folks, I ask: what if this turns ugly? Everybody seems to assume this war will last a week, and we will prevail easily. I hope these people are right. But it seems to me that Saddam has to know that the war we will have the toughest time winning is one fought in the streets of Baghdad. Don’t you think he is preparing for just such a battle? Have you read Black Hawk Down, or seen the movie? What would prevent the battle of Baghdad from becoming another Mogadishu?

I am very interested to hear people’s opinions on these issues.


Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:14 pm

MORE MAN ON THE STREET — ME: Apropos of the man-on-the-street reactions to North Korean nukes (see post below), I would like to add the reaction of Patterico, Attorney: “Thank you, Bill Clinton.”


Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:01 pm

ESTRADA UPDATE REQUEST: A reader asks me to keep you all up to date on the Estrada nomination. No sooner requested than done.

Of course, here at Patterico’s Pontifications, I don’t seek to insult the reader’s intelligence, even if said intelligence is unlikely to take offense. Posts assume a basic level of familiarity with current events. But, in the mountain of dogmatically expressed opinion that I expect to spill onto these pages concerning the Estrada filibuster, there will undoubtedly be something constituting an update.

IT’S ONION TIME: It’s Tuesday

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:26 pm

IT’S ONION TIME: It’s Tuesday afternoon, and that means a new edition of The Onion. My favorite piece from this week’s edition is their man-on-the-street commentary in reaction to the question: Can N. Korea Nukes Reach the U.S.?

The best comment comes from Ron Buhner, Gardener: “I sincerely doubt they can reach us. My back scratcher was made in Korea, and the piece of crap can barely reach past my shoulder blades.”


Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:05 pm

CLASSIC ANTI-WAR PHOTOS: These are great. Collected by James Taranto of Best of the Web, here are links to two great anti-war photos. First comes this fan of Neville Chamberlain. Next is the second photo at this link. I couldn’t improve on the caption if I tried.

It’s almost like God put these two guys in the demonstration deliberately, for ironic purposes.

QUESTION: I have a question.

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:05 pm

QUESTION: I have a question. While it might sound rhetorical, I would be happy to read any serious answers, if there are any. Send responses to the e-mail address on the left margin of this page.

I was watching coverage of Powell’s speech at the U.N. Security Council the other day, and I couldn’t help but notice that when he was done, one of the first speakers to respond was the ambassador from Cameroon. Cameroon? on the U.N. Security Council? What’s the deal with that? I have the same question about Syria.

My understanding is that there are 15 countries on the Security Council. Of all the countries in the world, why do the 15 include Cameroon and Syria? What’s going on here? And where is Cameroon anyway?

UPDATE: A reader (okay, my buddy Steve) writes to clarify the composition of Security Council membership: “OK, here’s the answer to the UN question. There are the five permanent members we all know, but there are 10 other positions that rotate through all the other countries. And, the chairmanship is also rotated month to month alphabetically, which is why France is in charge this month and Germany is in charge next month. Isn’t that lovely?”

Makes about as much sense as anything else about the U.N. If having the chairmanship makes a difference, maybe we could change the name of our country to “Fred” for next month only. I could handle being a citizen of “Fred” if it kept decisions out of Schroeder’s mitts.

But I still don’t know where Cameroon is. . .


Filed under: General — Patterico @ 3:38 pm

THE INSIGHT OF GOOGLE.COM: I think this is a put-on — but it’s very funny, regardless. Courtesy of The Volokh Conspiracy.


Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:36 pm

PROFILES IN COWARDICE: According to the link below regarding the Nobel Peace Prize nominations, another nominee is former Illinois Governor George Ryan. You may remember that Ryan — just before leaving office — commuted the death sentences of all 165 prisoners on Illinois’s death row.

To illustrate the effect of this, I have provided this link to a story about one of the crimes for which a killer’s sentence was commuted. The murderers used a pair of scissors to cut open the victim, a pregnant woman, so they could steal her baby. The ringleader now cannot be executed, thanks to Peace Prize nominee Ryan.

Contrast Ryan, who can suffer no political fallout from his actions because he has left office, with someone like Tony Blair, who stands up for what he believes in no matter how tough it is for him politically.

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